Are you embarrassed to show off your legs because of unsightly spider veins? Spider veins on the legs most often look like a web of tiny red, purple or blue lines that occur in various patterns and clusters. They can also look like a large reddish-blue bruise and can occur anywhere from the feet or ankles all the way to the upper thighs. The impact of spider veins for many people is frustration and low self-esteem with stories of “not wearing shorts for years” or trying to hide them with makeup or tanning. At Rejuvenation Clinic of Sauk Prairie, we’re proud to offer sclerotherapy, an effective non-surgical cosmetic treatment for unsightly spider veins on the legs.
We still don’t quite understand why some people get spider veins and others don’t. There definitely seems to be a genetic component in that most people can remember a parent or grandparent having the same issues. Longstanding problems with larger, varicose veins often lead to unwanted spider veins. Pregnancy, obesity and prolonged standing which is common in many occupations are all likely factors as well.
What Is Sclerotherapy?
If you break down the word, sclerotherapy, you find that sclero- means “to make hard or hardening” and -therapy refers to a treatment so essentially we are hardening the vessels with this treatment. The procedure involves an injection with a very small needle directly into the blood vessels, with a specific solution, causing them to collapse, harden, shrink and eventually disappear. The injection solution can be as simple as concentrated saline or a prescription pharmaceutical sclerosant. These solutions are used as an irritant that makes the tiny blood vessel swell, clot and harden— cutting off the blood flow. With lack of blood flow, the vessel collapses and your body absorbs the unwanted vein. Because spider veins are not performing any essential function, the blood flow is directed to other, healthier veins.
How Does Sclerotherapy Work?
During your consultation at Rejuvenation Clinic of Sauk Prairie, your clinician will look at the areas of concern and determine if your veins can be treated with sclerotherapy in our clinic. Depending on the number of veins and their size, you may require several treatments for best results. Unfortunately, deeper and larger veins such as varicose veins need to be treated in a different medical setting which may utilize ultrasound sclerotherapy, lasers or even surgery. With varicose veins, many people report swelling in the legs, achiness and fatigue. Spider veins tend to not have any symptoms.
The clinic visit starts with pictures of the areas to assess results at follow-up visits. As you lay reclined, the areas are thoroughly cleansed with alcohol. Using a special polarized light, the clinician is able to see the spider veins up close and slowly injects the sclerosant solution with a very fine needle directly into the vessel. While some people feel very little, others experience tingling, burning, slight discomfort or cramping for a couple of minutes, especially for larger patches of spider veins. To treat both legs, front and back, the whole procedure can take 45-60 minutes.
After the procedure, a Coban or ACE bandage is wrapped snuggly around the legs. This is kept on for at least 24-48 hours to help prevent blood flow back into the veins. Once the wraps are removed, you’re asked to wear compression stockings and avoid certain activities for two weeks. This is all done to give you the best results.
What Are Potential Sclerotherapy Side Effects?
Sclerotherapy is generally a safe procedure and has been around for many years. The most common side effects of sclerotherapy include:
- Slight pain near the injected vessel.
Some patients develop small branches of new blood vessels that usually disappear on their own. Allergic reactions are highly uncommon and rarely serious. Burning, skin color changes, small sores or ulcers and severe swelling can also occur infrequently.
What Should I Expect After Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy requires little to no downtime, and most patients drive themselves home and resume most of their normal, everyday activities.
In addition to compression stockings, you’ll be asked to engage in short, intermittent walks throughout the day and not participate in strenuous activities for two weeks. In particular, you should avoid prolonged standing and prolonged sitting. Hot baths, showers or hot compresses are discouraged as well as avoidance of direct sunlight during the healing time to not cause unwanted pigmentation in the skin.
How Often Will I Need Sclerotherapy?
After three to six weeks, spider veins should start to disappear although it can take up to three or four months to see full results. If you’ve never had the veins treated before or had extensive involvement, you’ll likely be asked to return in 6-8 weeks for a second session. After your initial sessions, its common for people to return to the clinic once a year for a touch-up but it is possible that you won’t need further touch-ups for many years.
How Do I Get Started?
If spider veins are causing you to avoid showing off your legs, contact Rejuvenation Clinic of Sauk Prairie. Our goal is to help you look and feel your best so that you can walk into the future with newfound confidence. Give us a call at 608-434-6600 to schedule your free consultation.